3rd Year Client Project
Setting the scene
For my client project I was fortunate enough to work with BrushBox. BrushBox is a subscription based oral hygiene service, which delivers products on a two month basis from a customised plan. A basic BrushBox contains a toothbrush design of the customers choosing (which arrives in a random colour each delivery) and a two month supply of toothpaste. Brushbox also offer additional extras which include floss and a tongue cleaner.
The 2 month delivery gap is based on the recommended duration between changing toothbrushes.
BrushBox is a sustainably motivated company. Currently two of the three toothbrushes offered are manufactured out of sustainably sourced Moa bamboo. Brushbox also work with charitable organisations such as Dentaid to provide toothbrushes to those in need.
Initial client discussion
During conversation between myself and the CEO of BrushBox (Mike Donovan) he mentioned a few problems which he was encountering with his current service:
Firstly, customers currently don’t feel as comfortable using a bamboo toothbrush as they do using their plastic alternatives, this is why BrushBox still offer a plastic toothbrush in their line of products.
Secondly, BrushBox currently have to send more toothpaste than is necessary because customers have been conditioned to use too much through traditional marketing material. The correct amount of toothpaste required for a brushing session is a pea sized amount.
The decided briefs
After the initial conversation with Mike and carrying out research, we settled on three briefs:
1. Create a beautiful and sustainable toothbrush that consumers are willing to accept, whilst taking into account the limitations of product development within a small start-up company.
2. Develop a more sustainable method of providing toothpaste.
3. An efficient packaging re-design to accommodate the new products.
Research began by trying to understand why traditional toothbrushes are so damaging to the environment.
The research was carried out through assessing the materials used to manufacture traditional toothbrushes, the manufacturing methods used to produce the toothbrushes, and how toothbrushes are disposed of at the end of the life cycle.
Research into alternative methods of providing toothpaste was also carried out by analysing existing products which BrushBox did currently not offer.
These alternatives included toothpaste provided in various delivery methods (e.g. tablets) and alternative packaging materials (e.g. glass containers).
Firstly, Due to the problem of customers not being as accepting of bamboo toothbrushes compared to their plastic alternatives, I looked at how we could make plastic more sustainable.
The only part of a toothbrush which needs to be replaced every two months are the bristles. A solution which takes this into consideration could potentially be both financially and environmentally beneficial for brushbox.
Secondly, the problem of consumers using too much toothpaste led to the development of a solution to limit the amount of toothpaste which was being dispensed.
Multiple methods were considered, such as redesigning the lid of a toothpaste tube to limit the amount ejected, or even removing the toothpaste entirely and using alternatives.
Sustainability surrounding the disposal of the toothpaste tube was also considered. Because toothpaste is abrasive, the inner of the tube is lined with aluminium. This creates a body of material which is difficult to separate when discarded and therefore leads to the tubes ending up in landfill.
This led to the possibility of utilising alternative materials such as glass which although allowed the possibility of recycling, caused issues with delivery.
The new toothbrush allows for the ability to change the head. This from a sustainability aspect maintains BrushBox’s values, the changeable head also saves BrushBox manufacturing costs which can be passed onto the customer making their service more viable to a wider market.
The toothbrush has been designed to be intuitive to use. It can not be assembled incorrectly, due to a gradual taper on the channel which narrows towards the head. This stops the head from being inserted incorrectly. This taper also allows the insert to secure the head in place creating a tight fit, ensuring that the components do not come loose, acting on the same principle as a door wedge.
Safety was a big concern due to the removability of the head. This was combated through the use of a channel. The head is only able to be inserted and removed from the toothbrush through sliding from the rear of the handle. This means that the head cannot come off in the users mouth.
The initial problem of customers using too much toothpaste was combated through the use of toothpaste tablets.
By using toothpaste tablets BrushBox can physically provide consumers with the required amount of toothpaste required per brushing session. The tablets themselves were sourced from Lush and do not contain fluoride, further satisfying BrushBox’s views on sustainability.
Currently the toothpaste tablets arrive in a plastic box which can be recycled or re-used. The box lid creates a secure fit between each tablet, removing the possibility for them to rub turning the tablets to dust.
Currently my redesigned products have allowed me to reduce Brushbox’s packaging by 77% on the initial delivery including all the toothbrush components, and an 85% reduction on the recurring deliveries afterwards, which would only require a new head replacement and toothpaste tablet resupplies.
Further improvements which I would like to include would be to develop a Pez-like dispenser for the toothpaste tablets. This would streamline the process of brushing your teeth.
Another development would be to create a candy wrapper style packaging for the tablets to allow for delivery by letter. This would further reduce the cost of delivery for BrushBox and increase the services sustainability through even less use of packaging material.